Jim Carlson- Senior Pastor (for staff page)

Pastor Jim Carlson

Sr. Pastor
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Pastor Jim Carlson joined the staff of First Baptist Church as the Senior Pastor in June of 2013. An Illinois native, he has served for more than twenty years as the pastor of American Baptist Churches in California, New York, and Wisconsin. He holds a PhD specializing in New Testament from Marquette University and a Doctor of Ministry specializing in cross cultural ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary. He is married to his wife Michelle, a massage therapist who is originally from Ohio. They have a teenage daughter named Emma. Jim enjoys computers, riding motorcycles, and playing keyboard in rock bands.

Phone: 309-922-8098

Pastor Garland Criswell

Pastor of Older Adult Ministries
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 Pastor Criswell received his call into the Christian ministry while attending a 1945 Green Lake Youth Conference.  His call was to be a missionary, not necessarily a “preacher.” He pursued his education earning a BS in Social Work from Indiana University.  Later a MA in Counseling from Bradley University.  He was “commissioned” as an American Baptist Home Missionary in 1954, by the AB Home Mission Society and AB Convention.  He has served on the staff of five ABC Christian centers.  He last served 32 years as the Executive Director of the Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service.  Upon his retirement in 1990, Garland was invited to be a part-time Minister of Visitation and then Pastor of Older Adult Ministries at Peoria First Baptist Church. He continues in this role.  In 2006, First Baptist officially “ordained” him.  Garland continues in this ministry and is active in the Peoria community.

Phone: 309-689-7509

Mark Grizzard

Music/Young Adult Program Leader
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Mark Grizzard serves as Music Director and Young Adults Leader.  He directs the Chancel Choir and Men’s Choir, and he coordinates other ensembles including the Guitar Ensemble, Youth Band, and special-event music groups.  He also teaches college-age Sunday School and organizes small group activities for young adults.  In addition to his work at the church, Mark is director of the Peoria Area Civic Chorale and the Illinois State University Men’s Glee choir, and he has years of professional experience as a performer, composer, arranger, educator, and clinician.

Dr. Joshua Russell

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Dr. Joshua Russell plays the piano and organ for worship services and additional functions at First Baptist Church.  He has performed throughout the world as a concert pianist, organist, and conductor and is recognized as a leading expert on the piano music of Haiti.  He frequently appears as a soloist with orchestras across North America and is a sought-after speaker on topics related to music performance and teaching.  Dr. Russell is also a member of the piano faculty at Illinois State University.


Leigh Wiedelman

Handbell Director
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Leigh Wiedelman is in her third year as Handbell Choir Director.  In addition to directing the First Baptist Handbell Choir, Leigh teaches music to Kindergarten through Third Grade students at two primary schools in Pekin, and also directs the Youth Choir at Trinity Lutheran Church in Peoria.  A Music Education graduate from Valparaiso University, Leigh sings in the Peoria Area Civic Chorale and takes part in other musical opportunities such as the Peoria Bach Festival and has been a soloist for the Peoria Municipal Band.

Judy Tellier

Administrative Assistant
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Judy Tellier joined the staff of First Baptist Church in 2000 as the Financial Secretary. She has served as the Administrative Assistant since 2002.  Judy manages the office, assists pastoral staff and coordinates events and projects with the various boards and committees.  Judy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Western Illinois University.  A native New Yorker, Judy now lives in Peoria with her husband, Jay, and their two dogs.

Sandy Johansen

Church Secretary
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Sandy Johansen joined the staff at First Baptist on April 2009.  She brings 30-plus years of administrative experience to the role of Church Secretary.  Some of her duties include greeting and assisting visitors and callers, producing the weekly church newsletter and worship bulletins, and  preparing the slides for Sunday worship service. She lives in Medina township with her husband of 17 years, Jeff Johansen.

Lorey Schlehuber

Financial Secretary
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Lorey Schlehuber joined the staff at First Baptist Church as the Financial Secretary in November 2004.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Bradley University.  Some of her duties include tracking contribution giving and preparing financial reports for church board committees.  Outside of her part-time position at First Baptist, she owns and operates a family-based business that her father founded over 35 years ago. She lives in Morton with her husband, Michael and two children, Christian and Clair.